N is for Newbie mistakes
I was so excited. I’d finished my first manuscript and knew it was ready to go. Many sources told me I needed to revise and rewrite but I read it over and I couldn’t find anything. So I fixed a bunch of typos and threw in a smell or two.
Ha ha ha ha. I know much better now.
Now I look at structure; scenes that are unrealistic; scenes that don’t move the story forward, scenes that don’t have enough tension or the emotion needs to be fleshed out.
And I rewrite, cut/slash, delete scenes, write new ones. #iwillhavethelastlaugh
2. Show don’t tell
I knew showing on a bigger scale – as in don’t narrate. But my first year writing I still didn’t quite get that showing meant a lot more than that.
- It means showing emotion instead of naming.
- It means using specific body language instead of vague clichéd ones.
- It means allowing the internal conflict to show through internal dialogue that isn’t just spitting out information the reader already knows.
- And all telling isn’t bad. The best writing is excellent telling.
3. Sensory details
I could have sworn all I had to do was add a smell to each scene and I had it covered.
Now I know that sensory details make the story come alive and draw the reader into the world. And through more than just smell, but touch, taste, color, sight and more.
4. Three dimensional characters
I was convinced that it just meant knowing more backstory on your character. But it doesn’t matter how many quirks or details or history you know about a character they will not come across three dimensional unless the writing is excellent: incorporating showing, description, sensory details, internal monologues, internal conflict and more.
5. The power of internal thoughts
I often skimped on the internal thoughts because I thought for sure readers would be bored. I mean, who cares? Well, I was wrong. The reader does care. That’s where we see how a character reacts, how they grow, how they interpret their world. Without it, a character will certainly be flat.
These are just the biggies. I made many other newbie mistakes. And the biggest thing I learned is that we can read a 1,000-page book on craft but until we struggle through our writing and experience the light bulb moment, they are nothing more than black words on a white page.
What are your newbie mistakes?